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MLS: Eastern Conference Preview

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ORLANDO, FL - FEBRUARY 23: Midfielder Danny Cruz #44 of the Philadelphia Union jumps for a pass against the DC United February 23, 2013 in the final round of the Disney Pro Soccer Classic in Orlando, Florida
ORLANDO, FL - FEBRUARY 23: Midfielder Danny Cruz #44 of the Philadelphia Union jumps for a pass against the DC United February 23, 2013 in the final round of the Disney Pro Soccer Classic in Orlando, Florida

Overview: The Union is perhaps the most unpredictable team in the Eastern Conference. Coach John Hackworth will be entering his first full season after inheriting a mess from the much maligned Peter Nowak. Nowak’s tenure saw the departures of fan favorites Sebastian Le Toux and Danny Califf, causing an irreparable rift between him and fans. His dictatorial approach also alienated many of the players who played themselves into the conferences nether reaches. In order to motivate the players, Hackworth has presented himself as Nowak’s antithesis, and has brought back Le Toux from New York, where the Frenchman was more of a spectator than anything else. Hackworth has also brought in Conor Casey to try and rev up the team’s goal scoring. Until Freddy Adu gets shipped somewhere else, his salary will handcuff the team’s ability to further strengthen the squad. Thus, Hackworth will have to depend on his younger contingent, which is led by Michael Farfan.

Key Player: Fairly or unfairly, a lot of the pressure will fall on Le Toux’ shoulders. The Frenchman has been effusive about his return to PPL Park, but the atmosphere could sour if he doesn’t regain the form that made him a fan favorite. Casey will ease some of the pressure, but it’s up to the lanky striker to deliver.